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Museveni Vows Real Economy to Weather Coronavirus Storms

Saturday, 13th June 2020

During his June 4th State of the Nation Address, President Museveni pledged to develop the economy of Uganda, in order to attain the twin objectives of increasing the prosperity of Ugandans and reducing global mockery of African underdevelopment. Addressing the nation in line with Constitutional requirements, the President recalled the 10 Point Programme which had guided the National Resistance Movement (NRM) in its commitment to fight for and usher a new governance regime for a secure, peaceful and prosperous Uganda. In particular he referred to three Points from the 10 Point Programme in his Address, which was dominated by the matter of post-COVID 19 economic recovery. In the NRM economic development strategy, Point 5 captured the vision on economic development as it referred to building an economy that is independent, integrated and self-sustaining.  Such an economy would find markets in Uganda but also in other African countries hence the focus of Point 9 on co-operation among African countries. The National Resistance Movement had also steered clear of the conflicting capitalist versus socialist economic growth paths; preferring instead to adopt a mixed economy approach to economic growth as captured in Point 10 of the Programme. 

Recalling these Points, Museveni says, helped him to calm panic over the effects of coronavirus on the Ugandan economy from many quarters.  The essence of his message was that Uganda had built a real economy, resilient to the buffeting coronavirus or any other economic winds.  He contrasted this with what he called a vulnerable economy which would go down at the first gust of foul winds.

Below are excerpts from his speech

The Real Economy is the economy that deals with the nine basic human needs of: food, clothing, shelter, medicine, security, physical infrastructure (railways,  roads,  electricity,  telephones, etc.), health infrastructure (hospitals etc.),  education infrastructure (schools, etc.) as well as the teaching of numeracy, literacy, skilling and intellectual development and the spiritual work (churches, mosques, radios, televisions, etc). This is the real economy. It deals with basic human needs. It is durable. Even in wars, this economy will survive. It is comprised of: agriculture, industry, ICT and some of the services (the professional services such as engineering, medical, legal, etc). This economy is durable, reliable and  beneficial to society. If we were talking of nutrition - human nutrition - we would say that it would be body-building or body-nourishing - adding nutrients to the body. It is also an economy for survival and prosperity. If you want to survive as a people, that is the way to go. If you want to prosper as a country, that is the way to go - Real Economy. If you want to benefit, the way to go is the way of the Real Economy.

On account of our correct agricultural policy, we have a lot of agricultural products for food security and for commerce in the form of: bananas, maize, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, coffee, tea, cotton, cocoa, milk, beef, fish, poultry, eggs, flowers, etc., etc. Apart from feeding us, these agricultural products end up by earning for us US$2,005 million (49% of total merchandise exports) in the year 2019.

Our correct policy on the private sector has attracted a total of 5,200 factories. These are producing: cement, steel bars, soap, mattresses, mabaati (iron sheets), sugar, cooking oil, rubber tyres, textiles, beverages, beers, etc. and bring in a total of US$2.09 billion as of this quarter. This sector is ready for a qualitative change by starting manufacturing buses, mini-buses, pick-ups, small cars, bicycles, etc. The ICT sector is a growing one, employing 1,282,818 persons with 380,896 companies engaged in information technology, telecommunications, broadcasting, postal and courier and audio visual. 
These are the sectors of the economy that will not easily collapse because of the corona-virus.

The economies of Africa are correctly described as under-developed because, indeed, they have a lot of potential which is not fully utilized. This potential is under-utilized, under-developed. We are going to fully develop that potential and become developed countries. We are lucky because we have everything. We have an agricultural endowment from which we can manufacture many products. We have entrepreneurial classes which can process every agricultural product using appropriate factories. We have electricity and other infrastructure elements which assist processing; a large, educated, young population that can run modern economies. There is a big regional market created by Pan- Africanists ever since the time of the Lagos Plan of Action. Last but not least of all, there are huge international markets availed to Africa, Uganda included, on account of the historical factors that favour the Continent of Africa.